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24 May 2017

posted 24 May 2017, 11:18 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 24 May 2017, 12:24 ]
Russian Protester Jailed For 18 Months Over March 26 Rally
A court in Moscow has sentenced a man who took part in an antigovernment protest on March 26 to 18 months in prison after convicting him of attacking a police officer. Aleksandr Shpakov, who was convicted on May 24, is the second person to be sentenced in connection with one of the largest protests in Russia in years. Protesters took to the streets in about 100 cities nationwide for anticorruption demonstrations whose size and scope surprised organizers and appear to have rattled President Vladimir Putin's government. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [24 May 2017]

Russian Intelligence Chief Says Terrorists Use Telegram's ‘Secret Chats’ 
Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), announced on Wednesday that terrorists groups are using secret chats on the instant messenger Telegram to coordinate their efforts. While speaking at a security conference for intelligence agencies in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Bortnikov said FSB agents have obtained evidence that terrorists communicate through closed groups on Telegram, according to the news agency RIA Novosti. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [24 May 2017]

Bill Banning Anonymous Messenger Accounts Submitted to Russian Parliament
A new bill banning anonymous users from using online messenger apps has been submitted to the Russian parliament. The plans would require users of apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram to identify themselves with their cell phone number. The companies behind the apps would also be forced to pass on information to government bodies and agencies, Russia's reported. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [24 May 2017]

Moscow Court Hears New Evidence On Magnitsky’s Death
A lawyer representing the mother of Sergei Magnitsky submitted Wednesday to a Moscow court new evidence alleging that a Russian investigator orchestrated the cover-up of the deceased whistleblower’s death. A representative from Hermitage Capital Management - the investment adviser to the largest foreign investment fund in Russia until 2005 - told OCCRP that Nikolai Gorokhov was "brave enough to appear at the court on Wednesday." Gorokhov was due in March to contest a refusal by another court to investigate new evidence relating to the so-called "Pavlov Leaks," which revealed how tax officials colluded with police and an organized crime group in a US$ 230 million tax rebate fraud scheme – the largest in Russian history – that targeted Hermitage Capital. [...]
Source: OCCRP [24 May 2017]

Lawyers do not rule out defamation lawsuit in relation to “Prevezon case”
Natalya Veselnitskaya, the managing partner of Camerton Consulting law firm, does not rule out possibility of filing a defamation lawsuit against Hermitage Capital Management CEO William Browder and a number of mass media outlets in relation to the so-called “Prevezon case”. “We consider all of the grounds for filing lawsuits not only against Browder, but also against Mr. Cherkasov, Mr. Firestone and mass media outlets, including Novaya Gazeta,” Veselnitskaya told journalists at the press-conference over settlement between authorities of the United States and a group of companies under control of Russian businessman Denis Katsyv. [...]
Source: RAPSI [24 May 2017]

Panic Mode: Moscow Probe Into Anti-Gay Purge Has Chechen Leaders Rattled
Moscow sends a delegation to Chechnya to investigate anti-gay crimes, sending local officials into panic mode.
Moscow’s probe into an anti-gay purge in Chechnya might be preliminary, but its effects are anything but. Russia’s Investigative Committee has not opened a single criminal case, and local authorities are already panicking, reported Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper that broke the original story. One by one, high-rank officials have lined up to make statements about their newfound tolerance of the LGBT community. Magomed Dashayev, head of the Grozny police, suggested he would even allow a gay parade in the center of Chechen capital Grozny. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [author: Daria Litvinova; 24 May 2017]

Bolshoi Theater Chief Appeals To Putin Over 'Wrong' Treatment Of Embattled Director
The head of Russia's renowned Bolshoi Theater has sent a letter to President Vladimir Putin criticizing the treatment of a prominent director who was subjected to searches and questioning in an embezzlement investigation. Bolshoi General Director Vladimir Urin told reporters on May 24 that the conduct of law-enforcement agencies toward Kirill Serebrennikov was "wrong." Investigators spent hours searching Serebrennikov's Moscow apartment and the Gogol Center theater, where he is art director, on May 23. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [24 May 2017]

Russian business ombudsman proposes to expand powers of prosecutors and Supreme Court
The Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Boris Titov has proposed, among other measures, to expand powers of the Supreme Court and prosecutors in criminal cases, RAPSI learnt during the conference at Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation. On Wednesday, Titov presented an analytical report for the Russian President on the state of criminal legislation’s execution in regulation of entrepreneurial activity. The document contains statistical data proving conclusions on rising level of pressure against business caused by rising number of launched economical criminal cases. In addition, the rising number of detained defendants in criminal cases in a sphere of entrepreneurial activity also contributes to the increased pressure. [...]
Source: RAPSI [24 May 2017]

Defence accuses law enforcers of falsifying Caliphate case
On May 23, the North-Caucasian District Military Court continued the debate in the case of Caliphate, which, according to investigators, 10 residents of the republic wanted to establish in Kabardino-Balkaria. This was reported by the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent who attended the court hearing. At the beginning of the hearing on May 23, the Court listened to Yuri Bachurin, an advocate of defendant Arthur Karov. In his speech, the advocate tried to find the origins of the case of Caliphate and called it "absurd." Yuri Bachurin has reminded the audience that in 2005, Nalchik was attacked by militants. As a result, according the advocate, law enforcers suffered "terrible" losses. "The law enforcers experience phantom pains and begin searching for imaginary enemies," said Yuri Bachurin. He has also expressed his confidence that the FSB and the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) institute a lot of cases on illegal armed formations (IAFs) and terrorism in order to create an atmosphere of fear in the republic. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [24 May 2017]

FSA treats repressions against journalists in Northern Caucasus as toughest in Russia
At a press conference held on May 23, members of the Free Speech Association (FSA) presented a report on the situation with freedom of speech and freedom of creativity in Russia in 2016-2017. The FSA members described repressions in Northern Caucasus regions as the most severe ones, the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent reports. The report was presented by Nadezhda Azhgikhina, the former secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, a FSA member, and Alexei Simonov, President of the Glasnost Defence Foundation. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [24 May 2017]

Lawyers: mosque in Shamkhal village closed illegally
A decision to close a mosque can only be made by a court. This opinion was expressed by Dagestani lawyers interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot", who recognized as illegal the actions of law enforcers against the Shamkhal mosque closed at the request of the law enforcement agencies. The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on May 16, the Salafi mosque in Shamkhal, a suburb of Makhachkala, was closed at the request of the law enforcement agencies. The senior officials of the local police station explained the closure of the mosque by the lack of documents proving the legality of its functioning in the village. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [24 May 2017]

In Krasnodar, farmer detained for picket in front of presidential motorcade
Today, participants of a "tractor march" have organized a picket in Krasnodar where Vladimir Putin arrived. Sergey Plyonkin, one of the activists, was detained after he unfolded a poster in the street when the presidential motorcade was passing by. The "Caucasian Knot" has reported on August 21, 2016, the protesting farmers held a rally and began their so-called “tractor march” to Moscow, but law enforcers interfered, stopped the action and punished the participants with administrative arrests and fines. After their disrupted "tractor march" and a failed attempt to meet President Vladimir Putin, farmers have repeatedly stated the authorities' attempts to suppress the protest movement in the Krasnodar Territory. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [23 May 2017]